|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Philebus by Plato:
among gods and men.
PROTARCHUS: Clearly, and yet perhaps the argument had better be pursued to
SOCRATES: We must take each of them separately in their relation to
pleasure and mind, and pronounce upon them; for we ought to see to which of
the two they are severally most akin.
PROTARCHUS: You are speaking of beauty, truth, and measure?
SOCRATES: Yes, Protarchus, take truth first, and, after passing in review
mind, truth, pleasure, pause awhile and make answer to yourself--as to
whether pleasure or mind is more akin to truth.
PROTARCHUS: There is no need to pause, for the difference between them is
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from Reminiscences of Tolstoy by Leo Tolstoy:
as 1854, he wrote to Kolbásina, "If Heaven only grant
Tolstoy life, I confidently hope that he will surprise us all," he
never ceased to follow my father's work with interest, and always
expressed his unbounded admiration of it.
"When this young wine has done fermenting," he wrote to
Druzhénin in 1856, "the result will be a liquor worthy of
the gods." In 1857 he wrote to Polónsky, "This man will go
far, and leave deep traces behind him."
Nevertheless, somehow these two men never could "hit it off"
together. When one reads Turgénieff's letters to my father,
one sees that from the very beginning of their acquaintance
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from Falk by Joseph Conrad:
movement of her arm, going on eternally upon all
the oceans, under all the skies, in innumerable har-
bours. And suddenly I heard Falk's voice declare
that he could not marry a woman unless she knew
of something in his life that had happened ten
years ago. It was an accident. An unfortunate ac-
cident. It would affect the domestic arrangements
of their home, but, once told, it need not be alluded
to again for the rest of their lives. "I should want
my wife to feel for me," he said. "It has made me
unhappy." And how could he keep the knowledge
|The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from A Drama on the Seashore by Honore de Balzac:
which strength had left vestiges of the gentleness which is an
attribute of all true strength, that forehead furrowed with wrinkles,
was it in harmony with the heart within? Why was this man in the
granite? Why was the granite in the man? Which was the man, which was
the granite? A world of fancies came into our minds. As our guide had
prophesied, we passed in silence, rapidly; when he met us he saw our
emotion of mingled terror and astonishment, but he made no boast of
the truth of his prediction; he merely said,--
"You have seen him."
"Who is that man?"
"They call him the Man of the Vow."